Before we go on, I want to look at the structure of ספר שמואל and outline the future shiurim. We know that the division into שמואל א׳ and שמואל ב׳ is a later, Christian division, but the text actually divides naturally into three parts. Rabbi Shulman has brought up the possibility that the three parts represent the three different authors of ספר שמואל: שמואל himself, גד and נתן.
שמואל א׳ פרקים א-טו are the story of Samuel and Saul, ending in the tragedy of ולא יסף שמואל לראות את שאול עד יום מותו. פרק טז is an epilogue, introducing David who remains a passive character who never speaks in the entire chapter.
שמואל א׳ פרק יז through שמואל ב׳ פרק ח is the story of David from shepherd to king and his single-mined mission to build the בית המקדש. We’re in the midst of that story now. It ends with a summary of David’s reign:
פרק ט׳ is an appendix, with a story that takes place during the previous narrative.
פרקים י-כ are “book 3”, with the story of Bat Sheva and all the consequences of that tragedy. It ends similarly, with:
פרק כא through פסוק טו is an appendix that I think tells the same story as פרק ט׳, but more fully and much more darkly.
The rest of פרק כא through פרק כג are four poetic appendices, then פרק כד is an epilogue that serves as the bridge to ספר מלכים.
In the paragraph about the conquest of Jerusalem, there are two key phrases that we glossed over before:
It’s time to look at them in more detail, as they serve as the segue into David’s attempt to build the בית המקדש.
I’m going to start with a halachic question brought up by Rabbi Florans, from Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein’s book, והערב נא:
Rabbi Zilberstein cites Rav Chaim Kanievsky who says that the mistaken bentcher must repeat the bracha. ציון is fundamentally different from ירושלים:
We have a separate bracha in שמונה־עשרה for rebuilding Jerusalem, בונה ירושלים. Even though we explained that בונה ירושלים is for the restoration of Jerusalem as the religious capital of Israel; the presence of the שכינה in ציון is something different.
So what does ציון mean?
The word does not appear in תנ״ך until our pasuk, and never again in ספר שמואל. It appears once in ספר מלכים:
Note that Solomon is taking the ark from ציון into the בית המקדש, which seems backward. We always think of ציון as a synonym for הר הבית.
After that, it appear more than 150 times in that sense, and three times as an ordinary word (as צִיּוּן):
So ציון is a signpost, a place to look for direction. As a mountaintop, it’s not an lookout, מצפה, but an “look-at”. In the sense that Rav Kanievsky uses above, it’s the place we pray to:
As the Zohar says:
So Solomon moves the ארון from ציון, the tent that David used to house it and where he established a regular service of prayer (see דברי הימים א פרק טז), to the new ציון, which would also be a center of prayer:
ציון as a signpost brings to mind the first “signpost” בני ישראל had, in the desert:
I want to analyze a פרק תהילים that starts with this idea of ציון as the center of our תפילות. As we shall see, it is the original תפלת גשם (a little out of place this time of year):
David starts by saying, I am inadequate to address You, ה׳.
ולך ישלם נדר has an implied “but”; David swore to establish מקום לה׳:
And he cannot remain silent, so he hopes ה׳ who is שמע תפלה will hear him, even though דברי עונת גברו מני. He hopes to be the one chosen to come close to the שכינה.
Then the perek has the familiar structure of תפילה:
ה׳ is all-powerful and awe-inspiring; psukim 6-9. It ends with the fact that people from all ends of the earth (ישבי קצות) are in awe of ה׳'s wonders, but praise the security implicit in the regular cycles of days and seasons, מוצאי בקר וערב תרנין.
This is the segue to the fact that we need rain, but as a blessing, not a flood.
Then the בקשה part. It is more subtle than simply asking for rain. We continue to praise ה׳ but it’s much more specific:
We need rain and ה׳ will give it to us; psukim 10-13.
תשקקה means “you water it”, as in גן עדן:
Or Jacob (I like the pun):
Metzudot translates פלג as “reservoir”:
And the rain is divinely decreed at ראש השנה; עטרת שנת טובתך:
When the fields are green and the flocks well-fed, יתרועעו אף ישירו.
But it all starts with אלקים בציון, the signpost that directs our prayer.
One more perek that expresses the union of Jerusalem as religious capital and Jerusalem as political capital:
Rashi understands David’s happiness at overhearing people say בית ה׳ נלך even though בית ה׳ doesn’t exist. Even after he gets the news that he will not build the בית המקדש, he wants people to be enthusiastic about it:
And then we stand transfixed:
It is the city of both הדות לשם ה׳ and כסאות למשפט; we pray both למען אחי ורעי, for the people, and למען בית ה׳ אלקינו, for the שכינה.
צבאות is an odd word. There’s a halachic question whether it counts as a divine name or not:
We hold that, as part of ה׳ צבאות, it is divine (and I probably should say and write ה׳ צבקות). As a divine name, it was literally invented by Chana:
But what does it mean? What are the hosts that ה׳ is the G-d of? It covers both all of creation:
And specifically בני ישראל:
As Rabbi Shulman points out, a צבא is not a mass but an army, a group organized with a common purpose with a common leader.
David adopts this name when looking at בני ישראל united in ה׳'s service:
And it’s the name used when he finally brings the ארון to Jerusalem:
He dedicates an entire פרק תהילים to explaining the name, in the פרק dedicated to that accomplishment:
ה׳ created the world. It doesn’t make sense to limit His Presence.
But still, we have הר ה׳, and only one who fulfills his word can successfully go up there. I think David is talking about himself here, as we’ve mentioned:
And only he can bring the ברכה מאת ה׳. And it is more than a ברכה for the Jews; David sees himself ushering in what we now call ימות משיח. Hirsch notes that the perek addresses G-d in the third person; the פניך of מבקשי פניך refers to יעקב.
And then David addresses the gates of Jerusalem to admit מלך הכבוד. There’s a twist here; it sounds like David is referring to himself as the “king of glory” but no, it’s ה׳ the all-powerful, who is acting as מלך, meaning the leader and representative of His people:
And He is king of כבוד, which in תנ״ך has the specific meaning of the physical manifestion of ה׳'s power
So when is ה׳ the מלך הכבוד? It is precisely when He is ה׳ צבאות, G-d over His army, the people united in His service.
The image of צבאות ה׳ surrounding the ציון of ה׳ צבאות is the image of בני ישראל surrounding the pillar of fire and cloud. As the Ramban says, the בית המקדש is the permanent re-enactment of מעמד הר סיני: